New York Harbor

Another shot from the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

What you're seeing is the southern end of Manhattan with the Brooklyn Bridge on the left (nearer the viewer), the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on the left (in the distance), the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on the right (if your eyesight is particularly good).

Jersey Shore

Meet Hoboken, New Jersey. This is the view from the top of the Empire State Building.

When I started editing this photo, I couldn't help but get a steam-punkish vibe off it. Particularly with the blimp flying overhead. And since it wasn't particularly attractive or interesting otherwise, I thought I'd really lay it on thick. So...
  • Triple exposure HDR (+2ev,0ev,-2ev)
  • My signature faux tilt-shift in Photoshop
  • Some "vintage" processing with Topaz Adjust 5

Little known fact: I lived most of my teenage years in New Jersey. Explains a lot, doesn't it?


This was taken from Liberty Island and is composed of three "sections" of three exposures each. So nine shots total. If you look carefully, you should be able to pick out quite a few New York landmarks.

Dynamic Views Update

So it's been about a couple of weeks since I switched my blog template to Blogger's Dynamic Views and there have been some ups and downs. Overall it's been a pretty positive experience, though.

The Pros

The layout is fairly clean and it's pretty snappy. I like how the social components don't load until you hover over them. The old templates tried to do too much. So much that I ended up restricting things to a single post a page to try to speed up the load times.

Semi-related is how more content loads dynamically as you scroll down the page. It's a cool effect and I've found it to be useful already.

It's also reasonably customizable if you dabble with the CSS. You can't stray too far from the formula, but you can make it your own. I suspect there's more to come in this area.

Giving your visitors an option to choose the view that works best for them is also a nice touch. Some of the views need more work and some just won't work for every blog depending on the type of content, but it's fun to play around with.

The Cons

I've pointed out the search problem before. Basically if you use the search box for content you know is there it doesn't show up. Even as the same search through Google Proper succeeds. This is a known problem, though, and not likely to really impact most people (I think).

You can't preview posts. This one hurts a bit since I preview all the time before I publish. At least I used to.

No widgets. The template is pretty well locked down. When Google+ Badges were announced yesterday, I copied my code snippet to the clipboard and then realized that I had no place to put it. (For what it's worth, that's probably a pro also. It forces me to keep things simple.)

Sometimes the... dynamicness... isn't as smooth as it could be. I'm probably overly picky here so your mileage may vary.

And finally, I think the stats are wonky. My usage went up right about the time I changed to dynamic views. That might make me happy, but I've also noticed that the view graph doesn't really match the post counts (they seem high) and traffic sources (says that there are no stats yet).

Update: I still think the stats are a little wonky since I almost never see traffic sources anymore, but the apparent increase in usage is supposed to be more accurate. See this post for more information.

Try It!

If you run a Blogger blog and you're looking for something fresh, try the new templates. It's easy enough to switch back if you don't like it. In any case, I'm sure the Blogger team would be thrilled to get some feedback. ;)

9/11 Memorial

This photo isn't particularly artistic. It did get the HDR treatment since I was shooting in bracketed burst mode, but I did not invest a lot of time in processing.

I'm posting this for two reasons.

First, I think that some of you might be curious to see what things look like currently (as of October 2011). It's a mixed bag. It was a little messy because of the construction, but kind of neat as you see One World Trade Center (aka Freedom Tower) going up. Then just a few blocks away you have the Occupy Wall Street folk.

Second, if you want to see the 9/11 Memorial, you must make reservations. We did not know that and, well... you see how close we got.

To make reservations, you can go to the official 9/11 Memorial site.

East River View - New York In Miniature - Desktop Background

Once again, I've combined HDR and a faux tilt-shift effect on one of my photographs from the observation desk of the Empire State Building to come up with what you see above.

Download the 2560x1600 desktop background version

The Case For Google+ Pages

Today Google+ finally gave us the ability to create Pages and I've been seeing a lot of griping and complaining about how that is going to ruin the very interactive network that Google+ appears to be cultivating.

I beg to differ.

First of all, I would like to point out that it was not that long ago when all of the grousing was about how Google stupidly did not allow for businesses, brands and personas to create Pages from Day 1. And today, although not quite as loudly, the cries of dismay are from the opposite point of view.

The Internet sure is fickle. No deep meaning here. We all know it to be true.

At any rate, I like Pages for a handful of reasons...

It makes Google+ more accessible to people who present themselves to the public more as "brands" than as someone's son or daughter. People can be themselves even if its not the person who is listed on a birth certificate somewhere. If that makes conversations more honest, that's probably a good thing.

Then there are companies/businesses/brands out there who actually do interact with people. You see this on Twitter all the time. Many times I've mentioned a company, group or persona and gotten a meaningful and targeted response.

One complaint people are having is that Pages are just advertisements that we will get crammed into our streams. Just as with "real" people, don't Circle anything that you don't like and you will never have to see it (the "What's hot" section notwithstanding). Besides, Pages may actually be advertisements, but they are those ads that you want to see.

Possibly the biggest reason I am looking forward to Pages is that it gives us something to talk about. So what if I follow a news outlet's Page and they never respond when I comment on a story. I don't really care what "they" think. It's when I re-share that post with the people in my Circles that things become interesting.

There are other reasons to see this as a positive move, but I think you get the idea.

The net result is that this invites more people to inject more content into Google+. Of course, that sucks for those of you interesting in maintaining a private, club-like atmosphere, but for the rest of us it should be great news.

Uploading High Resolution Images to Google+

I'm trying something new here. I thought I would try my hand at a "how-to" video. This means I ended up doing things that I don't normally do and using tools that I don't normally use. Bear that in mind as you watch.

So here is the problem. I want to provide 2560x1600 resolution images to people who want to download some of my work via Google+. However, if you upload an image either through Google+ or through Picasa Web, the resulting file gets resized so that the longest size is no more than 2048 pixels long. That just will not do.

The trick is to use Picasa (the actual application client; not Picasa Web).

If that's all the information you needed, then carry on. No need to watch 15 minutes of my ramblings. But if you would like to see the steps involved, just hit play.

If you have comments or questions, the related Google+ post can be found here.

Scraping The Sky - Desktop Background

Scraping The Sky by Thomas Gehrke
Scraping The Sky, a photo by Thomas Gehrke on Flickr.
Taken from the observation deck of the Empire State Building, this HDR view of the East River was put together using three exposures.

I really enjoyed the clouds and the patterns of light and dark that they create on the landscape.

Liberty Island Pier - Desktop Background

Liberty Island Pier by Thomas Gehrke
Liberty Island Pier, a photo by Thomas Gehrke on Flickr.
It's really interesting the things that resonate with different people. There are photos that I take and images that I create that I just love, but that don't seem to get much more than a second glance from most people. Then there are photos that I don't find particularly compelling, but for whatever reason, get a decent response from others.

This is an example of one of the latter.

There are aspects that I like. The lines of the pier, the clouds and the seagull coming in for a landing, for instance. But I do wish that I'd composed the shot a little differently and that they had built the pier to it aimed a little more to the left. (I know. I tend toward the ridiculous, on occasion.)

Vital Stats:

- 3 exposure HDR (-2ev,0ev,+2ev)
- Photomatix 4.1.1
- Photoshop CS5

Feel free to grab the 2560x1600 image from Flickr and let me know what you think by finding me either on Twitter or Google+.